I interviewed nearly two dozen experts this month (friends and strangers alike) for advice on my upcoming articles, new book, new nonprofit, and even new record. I cannot tell you how much I learned, and how many unseen rocks I was able to overturn with these empowering discussions.
Most of the people I spoke to donated an hour or more of their time. Several expressed a desire to talk further in the coming weeks. All of these people are busy building things and chasing their own dreams, so it’s surreal to have them be so generous with their limited time.
As an explanatory writer, I’ve always asked a lot of questions of people who are smarter than me. But in the last couple of years, I’ve made it a point to ask even more people for their advise and mentorship on the mountains I’m trying to climb.
While a handful of people respectfully decline, I’d say over 90% willingly speak to me, which is a powerful witness of humanity’s collaborative spirit. “It never hurts to ask” has blessed my life and work more times than I can count.
I’m thrilled and honored to be on team human.
My friend Wesley and I recently launched a startup called PowerSpace. It’s an employer-sponsored online class to help the surge of employees now working from home. We’re really excited about it.
But that’s not why I’m here today. I’m here to tell you we couldn’t have built what we did so far without the nearly two dozen people who agreed to help us refine our product, pricing, and overall market approach. And they did it all for free, just because we asked nicely.
This brilliant idea wasn’t mine, however. It was Wesley’s. Before starting this company, my definition of mentors went something like this: formal and stiff relationships that mostly college students form to help find a job.
Boy was I wrong. Turns out mentoring is a lot more effective when it’s done on an informal, individual, and case-by-case basis. Better yet, people are happy to share their perspective, feedback, and opinion—usually for free.
That said, free mentoring won’t make you a success. Only you can do that. But it can give you a leg up on what you need to do next, and it will certainly introduce you to a greater number of people who can put you in contact with even more smart people who can help.
Want to get started or have an idea or problem you need help with? Send an email to someone you respect and see what happens. In my experience, my response rate was over half. It works so well, I’m determined to use free mentoring on every big idea that crosses my desk now.
Thanks, Wesley. And thank you to the many people who have mentored me so far.